Friday, April 30, 2010

What about a leaders' rebate

Watched the third debate between the three party leaders. It's one of those occasions where it's almost too easy to be cynical, but christ there's a lot to be cynical about. I guess elections are always which one do you dislike the least, which one's going to do the least harm, but this year's has taken that to some new hideous extreme. Perhaps if politicians were a bit more honest (ha! as if that ever helps them) well, it'd be nice if they were like, look, I'm going to be a light touch and try not to fuck it up.

Cameron appears to have won on the night, more's the pity, but it was no surprise. Although he normally greases around like an oil slick that's been poured into a suit, on the three occasions when he's had to slog it out he's shown enough of that Eton steel to get him through. The first time was his speech to the Tory conference in 2005 that effectively won him the leadership. The second was his speech to the Tory conference in 2007 that effectively meant Brown called off the election. And now the third time, as Brown finally got the clunking fist to stop clunking himself and actually give the Tories a bit of stick, Cameron was able to hold off the attacks and give some back.

Who knows how the debates translate into votes, and how floating voters actually react to all of this. Of course by their nature floating voters must be fairly low IQ, I mean, everyone knows the Tories are for the cunts, the Libs for the wets and Labour for people who haven't got anywhere else to go. You don't need a debate to see that, it's been the same for years now. (Also, do people really vote for someone because they got their missus pregnant?) My guess is the debates are just the public's way of deciding which newsreader they want to give them the bad news. I only watched them to see if a fight would break out, but of course they'd all done private polling and found that a fight breaking out would only be popular with 22%, so none of them would go for it.

And who knows why anyone would want to win the most poisoned chalice of governments for many a year. It may well suit Labour to sit out five or ten years of savage cuts and tax rises, before popping up again to say: Hi, remember us! We're the happy people from the happyland! Whatever happens, however, we can safely say that the idea floated when Blair went that the public was tired of slick, focus grouped newsreader-style politicians, that is clearly nonsense, the public wants nothing more than light, frothy politicans to bridge that gap between the daytime shows and the evening soaps.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daily Mail journalist in self-hate shocker!!!!

LIZ JONES: Now I know why I hate myself

Skipping over the obvious - because you write for the Daily Mail, dear - some choice quotes which explain maybe why she writes for the Daily Mail.

Everything I do is tinged with fear. As a child, my over-protective mum was terrified I would be run over ... I always assumed I was in imminent danger of being murdered. I developed a habit of conjuring images of disaster in my head.

So, what precipitated the current crisis? It was a culmination of things. It would be easy to say I became depressed because I got divorced, or my new neighbours in Somerset took a dislike to me. But that's not it. I'm used to not being liked.

I don't think: 'Ooh, I'm a good writer, I'm successful.' I think, hundreds of times a day: 'I'm rubbish, I'm going to be fired.'

Basically, I hate myself.

Well now that a course of intensive psychoanalysis has uncovered a traumatic episode in Ms Jones's childhood (surprisingly enough not inflicted on her by illegal immigrants, or drug-addled teenagers), do we believe that perhaps she'll stop churning out hate-filled, fear-filled copy for the Daily Heil?

We can hope so, although then of course she probably really would get fired.

Thiago: Mourinho told me to get sent off

Thiago Motta today revealed that it was Jose Mourinho's tactical genius that got him sent off in the 25th minute in last night's semi-final against Barcelona.

"Jose had a little word with me before the game and he said: "Look Thiago, I want you to get sent off as soon as possible, then we can crowd the defence, frustrate the Barcelonians and no-one will complain that I routinely send out dull, defensive football teams. So I did. And it worked."

Red Card

Motta was sent off with a straight red, having already received a yellow card in the 10th minute.

The Brazilian midfielder said: "That Jose, he is a tactical genius. He even told us at half-time not to worry in the 90th minute about them scoring a second, because the ref would call Toure's handball."

Mourinho said all credit was due to his team. "They defended like lions, every one, it was a masterclass in how to frustrate and disappoint and all those things that really make football great."

But as the Inter manager celebrated last night many observers noted that his eyes shone with an usual glow, some even calling them devil's eyes. Pep Guardiola, the defeated manager of Barcelona, said: "He must have evil powers, how else could he topple the righteous forces of Barca?"


And there was constenation last night after the tactical genius 'accidentally' revealed that he'd be taking up residence on a secret island somewhere in the Pacific, from where he plans more bold successes for his dark forces.

The cackling villain said: "Yes, certainly, I will soon be considering how I can eliminate beauty in the world - there's too much of it. I don't think it's good for the soul. Send me your Barcelonas, send me your James Bonds, I will crush them."

Lionel Messi, the greatest footballer in the history of the universe and the universe before that but it's a bit early to say about any other universes, was heard exclaiming: "God damn, it'll take an extra righteous army to get up now and crush the evil doer, it needs, it needs SUPERMAN can you hear me??? SUPERMAN help!!!"

Mourinho replied: "Ah, who is this zooperman? Come out son of Jor-El I will destRRRRRROOOYYYYY you!!!"

I got 750 words but a bitch ain't one

Writers are often told, along with many other globules of advice - like, get a proper job you jackass - to start the morning by writing a few pages of whatever the hell comes into their head. Recently these appear to have been named 'morning pages', but the idea is well established, that a morning bathing in the stream of your consciousness allows you to unclog your writing brain and tone it up a bit. It's quite relaxing as well, feeling as if you are achieving something without too much effort. Sometimes it can help you think about what you want to write, sometimes it serves as a vent for your anger at the way the world is such a pile of shitcuntfuck, other times it merely gives you an opportunity to fail to string coherent sentences together, but it doesn't matter what you write, good, bad, beautiful or nonsense, and that's the point.

750 words is a run by a nice man in Seattle and its sole purpose is to help you write your morning pages. It counts and saves your output as you write and gives you a notice when you've hit your 750, which it estimates to be three pages worth. It has nice little icons to show you when you've written for a few days on the trot, for the primary school pupil in all of us, and it tells you how quickly you wrote what you wrote. It gives you an amusingly inaccurate 'analysis' of what you've written, comparing mindset, time orientation, primary sense and so on, so you can get an idea of your writing patterns. In time-honoured internet fashion, you can compete against complete strangers to see who can write every day, although nobody can read what you've written. You can search through your old morning pages as you wish, and that's about it. Privacy seems to be as secure as you're going to get, ie yeah he could just sell everything you write but probably he won't. Of course you could just do it yourself on Word or even - god forbid - paper but it's marginally more involving this way. Anyway, I recommend it.

Lifehacker post
Metafilter thread

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sam The Wheels

Pentecostal minister Clovis Salmon, known in Brixton as "Sam The Wheels" due to his bike wheel-making skills, came to Britain from Jamaica in the 1950s. From the 1960s to the 1980s he used his Super-8 camera to film Brixton daily life and church scenes, including the aftermath of the 1981 riots.

The great balls of China

China: Saviours of Snooker, Radio 4

Martin Kelner is one of only the very few regularly decent columnists in the Guardian, writing an unheralded and generally funny Monday column on what he's watched on TV sport. So finding out that he's made a radio show about the rise of snooker in China had me hoping for some of that good stuff. Kelner didn't actually travel to China, although it's always hard to tell on radio, but he did interview a few snooker players who have been there, along with Barry Hearn, who organised the first snooker exhibition in Shanghai in the 1980s. Snooker is huge in China, and the far East generally, and growing rapidly. One of the players recalled an early trip to Beijing and finding a snooker table being used on the Great Wall. Another remembered playing an exhibition for geriatric government officials, and having to stop every few minutes so they could go to the toilet. Recently 100 million Chinese watched coverage of a match between the two best Chinese players, Deng Junhui and Liang Wenbo, a far cry from when the Maoists made snooker illegal.

Snooker is suffering on its home turf, the days of Davis/Taylor are long gone, the lack of characters has sucked the spark out, and the banning of cigarette advertising has sucked the money out. So the Chinese fascination has pleased everyone, not least the players, who get treated like superstars out there. They were also effusive about the Chinese players, although, despite several opportunities, none of them seemed able to list any beyond Ding. It was left to Martin Kelner to mention Liang Wenbo by name. Marco Fu got a mention, but he was from Hong Kong and grew up in Canada. Ding himself was interviewed alongside his translator - who also got an interview all to herself - and was snooker-level articulate about the pains of moving to England to pursue his career.

Martin Kelner, funny as a muffin in his weekly column, didn't raise much of a smile in this show, just as I suppose I haven't in this review. The most notable moment from him was when he asked Ding if he'd eaten a Yorkshire Pudding, and received a confused burst of Chinese in reply. He was workmanlike, or I suppose professional, without ever making the topic gripping. Hearing the show did cause me to discover his blog, on his fairly impenetrable website. In any case, I wish him luck, since anyone who is able to make a living out of watching Sky Sports is some sort of hero.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bloggin fi Peach

31 years after Blair Peach was killed on Beechcroft Avenue, Southall, on St George's Day 1979, the police have finally published the report written by Commander John Cass, along with other material they collected in the investigation. The release of the documents is a victory for Celia Stubbs, Peach's partner, especially since, as was always suspected, the report more or less confirms the widely-held view that Blair Peach was killed by a member of the Metropolitan Police Special Patrol Group (the SPG), a quasi-military outfit who had been accused of excesses against minorities throughout the 1970s.

As a boy the famous Wanted For Murder of Blair Peach poster was up in the front hall, and my mum told me that they knew who had done it, and that the SPG had got away with murder. But I had never read the reports of the police riot that day in Southall until now. The shocking events and even more shocking inquest and cover-up make me angry even today. And when you hear David McNee, then Met Commissioner, quoted as telling a black journalist: "If you keep off the streets of London and behave yourselves you won't have the SPG to worry about," it makes you wonder how people could stop from rioting themselves. (Oh, they couldn't.)

Nowadays there's hardly any riots, the police don't wade in quite as much, but of course they still kill people. You'd hope they pay a bit of attention to this report now. It's not the moaning minnies of the left that's accusing them this time, it's one of their own. There won't be a murder prosecution but it would be nice if the police taught their recruits the history. I'm not hopeful - when I met the riot squad guarding the G8 anarchist camp, they told me they'd never heard of the Battle of the Beanfield, and they did agree that it might sometimes be helpful to know a bit about why in particular people already think they're a bunch of cunts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Around the world in 480 blogs

Blogger has a next blog button, where you click and are instantly transported to a random blog somewhere in the world. You can probably see it up there above me. Since I've been trying to blog more and since I heard that interacting with other blogs is an essential part of blogging, I tried it out. It was not a success. Of course I have the attention span of a very small gnat, but still, not one decently constructed paragraph graced my screen the whole time.

After extensive searching I started to see that blogs break down into a few categories:

Religious nuts
People with young children
People who are sick and dying
People who were sick and dying but now have young children
Blogs in Portuguese
Blogs I don't have permission to read
Blogs with an entry dated months ago which says: "I've been away for a bit but now I'm back!"
Blogs where they say they've moved to wordpress or tumblr
Blogs with extremely dodgy poetry

Obviously mine only really fits into the last category.

I wouldn't say it was an entirely dispiriting experience, in that I don't have much spirit of which to be dispirited, but it was certainly telling how much shoddy can't-string-a-sentence rubbish is out there. No wonder nobody reads blogs, who the hell has the time or inclination to wade through that gushing fountain of old bath water? My vague idea that a blog might be a shop window where I could present my wares to rich media tycoons passing by would only make sense if I pictured a shopping street about two million miles long with every shop window smeared with shite and only two shoppers, both walking briskly in the other direction with their collars up around their ears.

Still, I'm still game if you are. Whoever you are.

Actually I lied when I said nothing readable came up. Have a gander at this, and tell me you aren't glad you aren't in that family.

In search of the underdog

Nick Clegg says that the Tories in Scotland are 'irrelevant'. This may well be true but ha! Talk about forgetting where you've come from, two weeks ago and the Lib Dems were 'irrelevant'. I can't stand politicians - obviously, since I can't stand most people - but it's a little galling watching Nick Clergg, who I once saw completely underwhelm a huge meeting against the Heathrow third runway, make the jump from non-entity to political powerplay superdemon, with an attendant rise in smugness clustering around like flies surrounding a man with shit on his head.

It's apparently a very British thing to love an underdog, just as it's very American to love winners and get drunk on weak lager and shout about it. Why that is I couldn't say, not that that's going to stop me from trying. It might be because the British are so used to winning things, like wars and football well you know naval battles and whatnot, that we automatically side with the underdog out of sympathy - which would suggest that Americans are basically massive losers making up for their massive loserness by supporting winners. On the other hand, it's possible that we are such losers that we automatically identify with underdogs because that's what we are.

Perhaps we prefer underdogs because this country is so class-ridden that most of us are underdogs from the moment we're born (the radical's perspective) or perhaps it's that we're just bitterly jealous of anyone who sullies themselves enough to make it in the world (I don't know what perspective that would be). I don't have any clear idea of what it is we see in underdogs; perhaps we admire their pluck, their courage to keep going when they're clearly going to lose - Eddie the Eagle springs to mind - their courage to be known for being a total loser their entire life. Having said that, Eddie might say that in some way he won, because he won the hearts of a million British people who were like 'fair play to him having a go at something like that, I'd shit myself', and also to be fair he was the best ski jumper in Britain by a fair distance, so not a loser at all in fact, when you come to think about it.

I don't think we admire pluck, I think we like underdogs because they don't make us feel bad or at least any worse about our miserable lives, which is why, as soon as they stop being underdogs and start being overdogs, or whatever they become, hot dogs maybe, we drop them like a hot potato and cast around for someone else more underdoggy.

Dropped like a hot potato's a funny term isn't it, I mean when was the last time you picked up a hot potato? Not, of course, that it's not possible to pick up a hot potato, I'm sure that it is, I'm sure in olden days sailors used to pick up hot potatoes on the docks all the time, or something, and possibly caught hot potatoes in the process.

So where does the term underdog come from? It could be from greyhounds, but they rarely seem to be under, more to the side or just behind. Could it be that Britain's favourite animal metaphor is to do with the receptive dog in coitus? Perhaps the British only like people who are getting fucked by the top dog, but then how does that fit in with the traditional idea of the underdog being someone who comes from behind? What else could it be, underdog, a dog that used to go underground that everyone liked? Maybe it's related to dogging, that favourite British past-time, maybe Britain loves underdogging, no, I don't think I'm going to pursue that line of thinking.

Of course underdog could come from dog fighting, as in the dog that submits (under) the top dog, but in that case the underdog would be the loser, whereas underdog tends to mean the least fancied before the event, the David going up against the Goliath, and in fact there's an implied meaning of underdog that they often go on to win, otherwise they're just losers.

So I don't have a clue. A bit of research did turn up this attempt at etymology, but apart from being extremely tenuous, it's totally unreferenced and seems to be, more to the point, nonsense.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Memories of marathons

Marathon day in London. The TV coverage, with its relentless focus on the 'fun' and the 'heart-warming', makes it hard to avoid the conclusion that most marathon runners are data processors from Swindon, or website designers from Slough, the kind of people who would have had 'you don't have to be mad to work here but it helps' signs up in the 1980s and nowadays probably fill out Frankie Boyle gigs, because they're so fucking edgy. (A wild, rather stupid stereotype, but that is the kind I go for.) Obviously lots of different types of people run marathons, although perhaps they do they all have certain deficiency of intelligence in common. Still it's difficult to imagine cynical people running marathons - the kind of excitable positive mental attitude you need to think it a good idea to trash your joints for 26 miles seems to preclude dour miserables/realists like myself.

On watching the TV coverage, looking out for several idiots people I know who have apparently gone in for it, I couldn't help noticing that a lot of runners weren't really running it so much as, well, trotting. Of course when you're out for a 'fun' run (and how rarely does an oxymoron actually so obviously concern morons) actually running is not an essential item, as much just getting round by any means necessary and thereby raising loads of cash for wonderful causes. Raising the question of why people will only seem to donate to charity if someone is ripping their ligaments in half, but never mind, fun fun fun!

This year's event saw several world records broken. One man got the world record for fastest marathon dressed as a baby. He seems pleased, as does the man who won fastest leprechaun (I am not making this up), but jesus they let anybody in the Guinness Book of Records nowadays.

I have three major memories of the marathon. The first is from 1985 when my mum took me campaigning against the abolition of the GLC. We went around telling mostly unimpressed spectators that if the GLC was abolished the marathon probably wouldn't go ahead the next year. 'Don't be ridiculous,' one lady told me flatly, and the fact that she was proved right may have had some substantial impact on my subsequent political nihilism. Of course it is equally possible that years of trying to fire up an unwilling public for left-wing causes - for what was ostenibly their own good - left me bereft and unwilling myself.

When I worked at The Times staff there hated working marathon day probably more than Christmas Day - the roads around the Wapping plant are snarled up for miles with stupid people cheering on other stupid people, and most of the staff couldn't drive to work. As a cyclist it was not particularly difficult for me, although I did have to dodge the old Bill, leap a few barriers and sprint between runners across the Wapping Highway. The Highway has the rare accolade of the marathon running both up and down it, due to the torturous route it takes around docklands, and of all the vistas in London to have to pass twice, well it's an amusing choice.

When I worked at the tube, marathon day was an amusing tale of seeing fresh faced, excited joggers going out in the morning, and then watching them shuffling back in the afternoon, with carked ankles and twisted knees, helped along by some devoted family member, their happy finish line endorphin grin slowly peeling off as the weeks of agony ahead became apparent.

Other memories of marathon include the Marathon chip shop in Chalk Farm that somehow openly sold beer after hours in the 1980s, long before it was fashionable, where the chips were a strange shade of purple, and where marathon I guess referred to the drinking sessions. Every drunken tale rescued from that deviant establishment was always much more drunk than anywhere else. There was also the chocolate bar Marathon, which with a bag of crisps and can of coke was largely my school lunch for years. And let's not forget the parathons, when really strong acid trips go wrong.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Google Analytics Analysis

Who knows about google analytics? It's a tool website people use to measure traffic on their websites. I of course couldn't possibly measure traffic on my website, since it's so astronomical it is uncountable. But I check it anyway, now and again, to see if my blog has reached more people in a day than I could reach just by yelling out my window. Typically the answer is no I get quite a few hits and then an awful lot of them bounce right back off the page, presumably people who are looking for something else, or don't speak English, or wouldn't recognise good writing if it magically appeared on a computer screen in front of them. So the bounce rate, which doesn't much fall below 50% of visitors, is a sobering corollary to the individual visitors number beside it.

Yesterday wasn't a bad day, St George's Day being a topical theme and popular google search and I picked up a few people who'd searched for "St George's Day+racist". Most of them bounced straight back, as per usual, but what I didn't understand was why, when I myself searched google for St George's Day+racist, to see how high the post was in the results, it was so far down the list I never even found it. So these people had trawled google, painstakingly sifted through the great stinking piles of website nonsense out there, took a fine toothcomb to acres of chaff, finally unearthed my blog's small nugget of golden wheat, and then didn't even read it.

Which seems odd, but not as odd as the people who came to here after searching for criticalbills+blogspot? Five of them yesterday, of whom four bounced straight out again. What the hell else are they looking for apart from this blog? Or did it take one person (you can comment if you like) five goes to realise that they had actually found the right blog. Maybe all the new writing baffled them. Maybe getting rid of the embedded pornotube player confused them. Maybe, and this is what I'm really leaning towards, maybe google analytics sucks big bouncy bollocks. Anyway, if you're here, by whatever means you got here, thanks for dropping by.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy St Racist's Day!

St George's Day. It's a funny old thing. No-one seems to know when it is, or how to celebrate it. The Irish get pissed for Paddy's Day, the Welsh cook leeks (or something), the Jocks probably get pissed as well for St Andrew's Day or possibly play golf, but what do the English do for St George's Day? Well, traditional celebrations include a Guardian article mentioning what a hilarious coincidence it is that St George, patron saint of Little England, was - wait for it - a fuckin forrina; others mark it by bemoaning the lack of a proper celebration for St George's Day; others use it as a prop to write a blog post loading a gratuitous and unfair slur of racism upon St George's Day; others seem to like dressing up; no-one appears to have thought of using it as an occasion to maybe slay a few dragons, but it's early days.

On the face of it there shouldn't be anything racist about St George's Day. St George wasn't racist, being from Turkey and all that, and the dragon he supposedly slayed and princess he saved might have been from Libya. [That article features the interesting subplot that the Emperor's wife was so impressed by George's Christian martyrdom that she too became a Christian martyr, which is a funny thing to do when you think about it.] It's only that English people are assumed to be racist, hence Englishness is, but of course that's just bad press, those thugs running around saying outrageous things just to get themselves on telly. English people are no more racist than any other set of people arbitarily grouped together to make thinking less hurty.

Things get more complicated nowadays because the downtrodden English do have a point about their culture being subservient to all the new, better, more cultural cultures that have turned up over the years. But the chalice of English culture is so poisoned by the racists that even to start arguing that point makes people think you might be a closet racist hiding behind a politically correct thesis. And what the hell is English culture anyway? Shakespeare? Blake? It's not capitalism, thought up by a Scot; it's not colonialism, despite all the guilt, cos the whole of Europe was doing that; nor slavery; it's not multiculturalism, because that would be ridiculous; I hope to God it's not morris dancing, but it may be; it's certainly sucking up to America, but that's not much of a thing. Maybe this is why the racists have colonised the day, because they're the only ones who have a clear idea of what it means to be English: small minded, thick, violent, racist, closetly homosexual, that sort of thing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Campaign promise

'I'll tell you how it started. I thought I knew it all you see, I thought nothing like that could ever happen to me. So when they came up to me at school and they said: "Ere sonny, do you want to join the Conservative party?" I thought nothing would happen. I thought I could handle it. I could take it or leave it. At first it was just now and again, a little meeting once a week. I liked how it made me feel. It made me feel important, as though I was somebody. Then I started going to more meetings and I even started doing a bit of politics on my own. Reading all about it. I fell out with my family over it, always arguing about tax and spend and capital punishment. They wanted me to stop but I told them to stay out of my life. Then I went to university. That was when I got into politics really badly. All day every day. Sitting in the union bar arguing with the Labourites then off to the debating hall twice a week for a massive debating binge. It started affecting my grades, so I switched to studying PPE to cover up. Then I became a councillor and finally an MP. That was when I hit rock bottom. I was lying to everyone: my family, my constituents, my accountant, the media. I couldn't maintain the pretence any more. I'm here to tell you all, don't make the mistakes I made: Politics screws you up!'

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Louis Theroux: America's Medicated Children, BBC Two

Good old Louis, gonzo-bumbler, gauchely uncovering great scoops - like for instance that Max Clifford tells lies, or that Jimmy Saville is a fucking weirdo; Charming Louis, from a famous family: son of Paul Theroux, brother of Marcel Theroux (who I've never heard of), and also apparently brother of Jon Ronson (although that one isn't openly admitted); Posh old Louis, fag to Nick Clegg of all people at Westminster, who apparently lives in Harlesden; Yes, Louis is back, bumbling around some more, being nice to people and thereby getting them to let down their defences and tell him, nice Mr Louis, the TRUTH, not like those horrible journalists who crash in and get everyone's backs up.

What this amounts to this time is Louis staying over or just knocking around with three American families who have chosen to medicate their troublesome kids. We have 10-year-old Hugh, ratty, superior and friendless, prone to the occasional threat of suicide; 15-year-old Kaylee, whose brother had also been medicated but had grown out of it; and most shockingly of all, six-year-old Jack, a sweet-looking lad, who's been kicked out of school and spends his time in what we'd call a educational unit trying to make Tangram pictures without flipping the fuck out. Darling heart Louis, no matter how hard he tries to give everyone a fair shot (or at least enough rope to hang themselves) and not to let his prejudices shine through, spends an awful lot of the time saying things like: "Do you not think that perhaps he's just a normal kid, and you're just a shite, lazy parent?"

For what it's worth, that is what most people watching are thinking as well, and although Louis did quite well at not making people defensive, as well as showing he'd done more than cursory research into the kids' extensive diagnoses (OCD, ODD, ADHD, Asperger's, Bi-polar), there were times when you were glad that he did just come out and say: "Six years old is a little young for medication no?" Louis hung out with the kids and they seemed OK, although certainly troubled, but of course when he went back to the parents and pointed this out he was told: "Well you should have seen them without the pills" or in the case of the Jack: "No, that wasn't a freak out, but I can set him off for you if you'd like." Alas ethical reasons prevented that, so we ended up taking the mother's word.

And that was where the programme let the side down: It was fair enough for Louis to be absorbed in not overly challenging the families, but there was nobody else to put the case more concretely that the children maybe shouldn't be medicated, or at least not routinely. The parents certainly were aware of the controversy - in the case of the family who were all medicated, (even the dog, although not the daughter) the mother was highly educated and very articulate about the choices they'd made - but that didn't stop you from thinking that there was much, much more going on under the surface. The parents and also the doctors were well rehearsed in their pro-medication arguments, some more convincingly than others, but people who face the same questions over and over again often have their answers down pat, without it making their answers true.

So it was uneven telly, watchable, certainly, but it failed to really say very much, other than: this is what is happening (we know); there may be medicating going on to help parents control their kids or to avoid parents facing up to their own behaviours (this we know); there may well be medication for kids that is actually necessary (this we know although we may be sceptical to the point of not knowing it); we don't know if this is what is going on in any of these cases (this we um knew, or didnt know, well we're none the wiser). Certainly when you hear that one of the kids is diagnosed with the dystopian-sounding oppositional defiant disorder, you can't help but think: wait, are they medicating for opposition and defiance now? In interviews it seems that Louis was much more convinced by the possibility for medicating kids than it appears in the show, but the complete lack of alternative suggestions (as well as hardly any time given to the risks of medication) and the lack of footage of the unmedicated kids left at best half a story untold.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Your Two-a-day

Someone finds what is maybe the new iPhone 'in a bar', sells it to Gizmodo, they break it open and peek inside, before splashing big on the internet (and driving a fuckload of traffic their way), Apple ask for it back and grass grows and trees blow in the wind.

All this mentioned for no other reason than this comment on Metafilter.

Ash Tuesday

I've had a new idea, which is that I am going to post on here once a day - this is not going to happen, but i am going to try and write something for posting as often as i am able, which is quite often at the moment. This is inspired by hearing that when you run a blog - although I more walk a blog, or possibly shuffle along a blog - it is quantity not quality that's important, a sad indictment on the world in which we live, I guess, and a very typical indictment as well.

Anyway, for my first of no doubt millions of somewhat ropey but definitely existant blog posts I wish to mildly mention the absence of planes from English skies due to the eruption of a volcano in Iceland with a name so mental it sounds like the sort of thing an alien would jibber at you after snorting far too much ketamine. Thanks to this force of nature there has been not a single contrail to mar a beautiful succession of azure skies for the last week; a curious impression that perhaps it's a bit quieter round here lately; a lessening of the global CO2 whatsit for a bit; the warm glow that comes from the likes of Mr Ryanair getting a jetplane up the backside; and the smug satisfaction that comes of being too skint to fly anywhere this easter and not getting stuck in some holiday idyll with no money and having to sleep on the beach.

There are apparently millions of people stuck on easter holidays that they don't want to be on anymore, easter having long past, and the Royal Navy are being called in to go and collect them; Dan Snow, who - I can safely say, having once subbed an interview with him and his dad - is a bit of a twat, has tried and failed to "rescue" people from the dungeons of Calais, sort of like the Scarlet Pimpernel, except not; schools are shorn of their teachers and their pupils; complete peace and quiet for the residents of far West London and similarly unbenighted places; and impending doom for airlines, oh the horror

It is difficult to have sympathy for the people stuck on holiday, although no doubt there are people conversely stuck not on holiday, and also people from nice places stuck on holiday in Britain, although you haven't heard much about them in the news. But the people on holiday, well no doubt it is awful having to stay for three weeks on Tenerife when you were getting tired of it on the fifth day, but they rather remind me of that vision of hell - which the briefest of googling has informed me is likely to be Dante's - where the gluttons have to eat cake all day, even as they puke it up, and the cokeheads have to snort coke even though their noses are bleeding profusely, and the holidaymakers have to stay making holidays even though if they get anymore sunburnt they're going to become radioactive, and anyway they spent all their money on presents on the way to the airport and now they're eking out an existence living on stale bread that the shoddy restaurants on the strip chuck out at the end of the day, and making friends with the tramps that they told the police to remove in those halycon days before the planes were grounded.

In other developments the International Air Traffic Association called for a better response, which everybody ignored (ba-dum!), and plane companies claimed that they could have flown in the ash cloud anyway what the hell was the problem you idiots, and even the officials who grounded all the flights said perhaps they shouldn't have, which makes the whole thing even funnier than it was in the first place, just as a new belch of ash from the Eijeeiufkjnfakjnfliua volcano threatens to smother Europe again.

I'm off out now to enjoy the beautiful clear skies and even possibly take a photo over London, to show my grandchildren I guess, and I hope everyone takes note of the important lesson here, which is that it is possible after all for environmental protest to stop aviation, as long as it's well targeted, media savvy and takes advantage of prevailing circumstances.

late extra: I did actually go out, although without a camera cos it was getting cloudy anyway, and I distinctly saw several planes flying north-west above London, contrails like knife scars across the sky, and this despite the news saying that Southern England airspace is not open until tomorrow. So make of that what you want. I smell conspiracy. And kerosene.

Monday, April 05, 2010

'Is he from the future?'

'No, I think he's from Swindon.'

Police said Mr Cole, who was wearing a bow tie and rather too much tweed for his age, would not reveal his country of origin.

What I especially like about this story is at the end it says: "Mr Cole was taken to a secure mental health facility in Geneva but later disappeared from his cell." So obviously not that secure a mental facility.